Albert Boxler Riesling Grand Cru Brand 1997
The year is drawing to a close, and it seems traditional at this time that there are certain additions to the site that I simply have to make. Firstly there is my Review of the Year, when I look back to see the best (and worst) wines of 2007, and I will be publishing this shortly. I find my annual Ten Years On tasting, however, infinitely more enjoyable - and now and again it throws up a strong candidate for wine of the year. This year, as I look back at the 1997 vintage, my tasting of ten year old wines (to be published in full later this week) has been no exception to this unwritten rule.
Of the numerous wines in this year's tasting, here is one, the Albert Boxler Riesling Grand Cru Brand 1997, that really stood out on the day, and it is certainly worthy of a few extra words. I must confess I am not intimately familiar with the wines of Albert Boxler, and have only experienced them in a vicarious fashion, having heard and read the good reports of others. The domaine is located in Niedermorschwihr, and the Boxler family own vines in Brand and Sommerberg, as well as a number of other lesser vineyards. I believe that the Brand Riesling is reputed to have a classic style, very firm and steely, and that on the whole, save for the occasional disappointment, this is an estate that turns out an array of superb wines as Boxler strives to extract the very best from all of his vines. My own experience is that on tasting this wine it does not come across as steely or firm, and in fact I was rather taken aback by its very seductive character.
In the glass this wine has a moderate intensity of hue, is crystal clear, and it produces just a few clumps of tartrate crystals at the end of the bottle. The nose is quite fabulous and I would go so far as to say quite unique in terms of quality. It has a strong fruit component which is redolent of peaches and cream, beautifully vibrant and well defined. To say anything else other than this is sublime is perhaps superfluous, but - to try and give a more complete picture - it has a delineated style, there is a lovely depth to the bouquet, a gentle minerality, and overall a softness despite the open, vivacious character. On the palate it is very direct, very flavoursome, with that same peaches and cream quality backed up by simply delicious, mouth watering acidity. Despite this appealing frame it still has a soft, rounded, near creamy texture, wonderful depth and a broad presence, which is perhaps a touch honeyed and is certainly fleshy and rich. Weighty, fruit-laden and endowed with a little residual sugar I think, but not enough to make it overtly sweet, it also has a slightly bitter, peppery edge which gives a welcome bite, and which carries through to the finish where there is a fine, slightly honeyed length. Brilliant wine, drinkable now, but also full of potential. I must look out for more wines from Boxler on the basis on this tasting. 19+/20 (17/12/07)